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Singapore not repressive, political scene is outcome of elections: PM Lee

SINGAPORE — Pushing back against an interviewer's allusion to Singapore as a repressive country, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the political scene here is the result of how Singaporeans have voted in elections.

SINGAPORE — Pushing back against an interviewer's allusion to Singapore as a repressive country, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the political scene here is the result of how Singaporeans have voted in elections.

American broadcaster CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour raised a point during her interview with PM Lee on Monday (June 11) that there have been populist movements in places such as the United States and Britain, which saw Mr Donald Trump being elected president and Britons voting to exit the European Union.

She noted that while Singapore has liberalised "a little bit" in some areas of free speech, there has not been "dramatic political plurality", and asked if the country could open up more, away from its "pretty strict internal logic".

To this, PM Lee replied without skipping a beat: "I think when you say 'strict internal logic', it is rather a loaded term. Because what you really mean is: Why are we so repressive? The answer is we are not."

The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) won 70 per cent of the popular vote in the last General Election in 2015, which saw every seat contested, he said.

"Why is the political scene like that? Because that is the way Singaporeans have voted and it is an outcome of the elections. When does that change? It changes when the Singaporean electorate decides that this Government is not serving their interests, ceases to support this PAP team, and perhaps, hopefully, supports another team which will serve them better. And then it will be a different scene," he added.

"It is not the way it is because we are clamping down and preventing other people from contesting elections," he emphasised.

Asked about civil activist Jolovan Wham, who was charged in November last year for organising public assemblies without a permit, Mr Lee pointed to the Speakers' Corner where individuals may head there to "spout forth" and "relieve their soul of some important thought" .

"But if you insist on going places (where) you are not supposed to do this, then the rules will have to apply," he said.

Individuals are also free to publish on the Internet, but are subject to the laws of sedition, libel and contempt, he explained.

"And people do say whatever they want. If you research what is written, you will see that there is quite a lively discussion."

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